There are a lot of reasons to upgrade to OS X Lion, and Jeremy and I do believe it’s the right choice for most of you, but Lion’s better security should be at the top of anyone’s list.
The new security enhancements are something that all computer users will appreciate and, frankly, need. Sandboxing in particular is big — BIG:
Running an application inside a sandbox is meant to minimize the damage that could be caused if that application is compromised by a piece of malware. A sandboxed application voluntarily surrenders the ability to do many things that a normal process run by the same user could do. For example, a normal application run by a user has the ability to delete every single file owned by that user. Obviously, a well-behaved application will not do this. But if an application becomes compromised, it may be coerced into doing something destructive.
In Lion, the sandbox security model has been greatly enhanced, and Apple is finally promoting it for use by third-party applications.
iOS and ChromeOS are both sandboxed OSes, which is major reason they are so secure. Essentially a sandbox keeps an application in its own little playground where it can’t hurt anything outside of itself. Apple is ramping up its sandboxing efforts in a major way, and by this Novemeber, all apps sold in the Mac App Store will have to be support sandboxing.
It’s not hard to imagine a future where Apple has a toggle switch that allows users to prevent non-Mac App Store apps from being installed on their machines. I can’t wait until everything I run on OS X is sandboxed.
Companies such as Adobe and Microsoft may be slow to move to sandboxing, which is one reason I’m switching away from their products. Apple updated its iWork suite to support all of the new features of OS X Lion, and it should be updated this fall to support iCloud. So while Word and Excel may have more features than Documents and Numbers, I prefer the modern features, security and syncing that I can enjoy with iWork (autosave versions and resume are huge features that every user will love and in a year will wonder how they ever lived without).
We’ll be talking and writing more about security and some of the other new features of Lion this week and next.